Eco and Volunteer

Various forms of tourism are designed to help both the environment and the local cultures that are being visited. Many people want to visit places before they disappear, and sustainable tourism, conservation, and disappearing ecosystems are all designed to help protect these places so they will be around for longer. This section also looks at missionary work, and work travel, such as construction and teaching.

Teaching Trips

Teaching Trips

Teaching falls under the category of volunteer tourism, a popular travel trend in recent years. Many North Americans (typically recent college graduates) travel abroad to teach English for a year in Europe or Asia. This allows them to travel while at the same time still maintain a decent income. Typically you do not need to be a teacher to volunteer abroad, and often no TEFL or TESOL qualification is required. Generally, all that is required is a good standard of spoken and written English, thus making teaching a volunteer tourist occupation.

Pros and Cons

One of the biggest benefits of teaching English abroad is how easy it is to get a job.

No teaching degree is required, and sometimes not even a certificate is required. It is not unheard of to go to India, China, or Thailand and get a teaching job within a week. Unfortunately, teaching English overseas is not the most financially rewarding profession. Typically, teachers earn between $1,000 and $1,500 a month. Still, this may go a long way depending on where you are located ($1,000 a month is more than enough to live comfortably in Thailand, for example). Teachers generally have to commit to one full year at a school, which can be a positive for some people if they really enjoy the place they are staying, but can be a negative for those who wish to travel or do not like staying in one place for an extended period of time.

Popular Destinations

teaching2 Spain is one of the most popular destinations for people wishing to teach English abroad. The list of reasons to teach and live in Spain never ends: the sparkling beaches of the Costra del Sol and the legendary nightlife of Ibiza are just two of the many, many reasons to spend a year teaching in Spain. Each year the Spanish government recruits over 1,000 Americans to work in Spanish state schools, while many others work in private language institutes catering primarily to adults who wish to develop their English skills. Vietnam and South Korea are also popular destinations. While they may not offer the glamour of living in Spain, they are certainly more affordable and it is incredibly easy to gain employment while there.

The Road Less Travelled

While everyone knows about South Korea and Vietnam, Cambodia is quietly becoming a popular destination for teaching English. The exciting people and warm climate make Cambodia a very attractive place to live for a year. teaching1 Cambodia is also a very budget friendly destination, and it allows travellers to actually save money while still experiencing a nice quality of life. Azerbajian is another up and coming destination. Sitting between Europe and Asia, English is slowly but surely replacing Russian as the main language, which is creating a high demand for English teachers. The capital city of Baku provides the most opportunity, and although the cost of living is fairly high, the pay is generally better than in a place like Vietnam or South Korea.

Costs and Savings

Before you go, it is important to ensure you have all the necessary qualifications. While a teaching degree is generally not needed, most places require some form of certification that proves you are able to teach English. These certifications can be quite expensive and may take a few months to obtain, so it is important to look into it early. Once you start working full time, you should earn enough to cover your daily expenses, but it may be smart to have a little bit of money saved up to buy you some time before your wages start coming in.

Construction Tourism

Construction Tourism

Construction tourism, made famous through organizations like Habitat for Humanity, is part of the much larger category of volunteer tourism, which has become an increasingly popular travel trend in recent years. Volunteer vacations vary widely in scope, but construction tourism is one of the more popular ones. Construction tourism involves building houses, schools, and other buildings, typically in third world countries and low income areas. Volunteer tourism’s main goal is to lessen the toll that tourism and travels takes on local cultures and the environment, but it has long been a controversial travel trend.

Pros and Cons

According to Habitat for Humanity, around 1.6

billion people live in substandard housing, over 100 million are homeless, and nearly 1/3 of the global population live in urban slums. Construction tourism seeks to help fix all of these issues by building houses in third world countries. Construction tourism also builds basic facilities, giving people access to water and proper sanitation. Volunteer tourism, and especially construction tourism, has received criticism in recent years, however. Some experts believe that certain tours cater more to the needs of the volunteer rather than the volunteer project, and do not use the provided funds appropriately. Sometimes buildings are deliberately kept in decrepit conditions in order to ensure funding is never reduced. Often volunteers are not qualified to build houses or other facilities, and thus the quality of work suffers.

Popular Destinations

construction1 Chile is one of the most popular destinations for volunteers who wish to help construct houses. United Planet volunteers help build homes for low-income families in rural villages, and work alongside Chilean volunteers while doing so. They replace the run down shelters many Chilean families currently live in, which are usually made of temporary materials like plastic and cardboard. Laos is another popular destination. UBELONG offers volunteer opportunities across many different fields, including construction, for as short as 3 weeks to as long as 6 months. India and Nepal are other trendy destinations.

The Road Less Travelled

Perhaps surprisingly to some people, Romania is one of the more popular destinations for construction tourism. United Planet works with an orphanage in a remote town in Romania to help construct essential buildings. The orphanage struggles to accommodate its constantly growing population, so United Planet works to build other facilities to safely house these children. construction2 South-eastern Asia is also a popular site, as both Vietnam and Cambodia attract volunteer tourists from all over the globe. While these locations tend to focus more on the teaching side of volunteer tourism, there are numerous construction opportunities available as well.

Costs and Savings

Volunteer trip costs vary greatly depending on the destination of the trip and how long you wish to go for. Habitat for Humanity guesses, on average, a typical one week trip to either Europe or Asia costs between $2,000 and $3000. This includes meals and accommodation, medical insurance, in-country transport, and orientation materials. It does not include airfare or leisure activities, however, so the price could increase significantly. Luckily, fundraising for these trips is a very popular and very successful method to help raise money.

Pilgrimages

Pilgrimages

A pilgrimage is a search or journey to find spiritual or moral significance. It is usually a journey to a location significant to a person’s faith and beliefs, such as a religious monument or shrine. The shrine may have some spiritual meaning, such as the location of the death or birth of saints or other religious leaders, to locations where a deity may have lived, or to locations where miracles were performed or witnessed. People from numerous religions go on pilgrimages every year, with the Holy Land acting as a focal point for the Abrahamic religions (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism).

Pros and Cons

Two of the most popular types of pilgrimages are land tours and cruises.

There are pros and cons to each. On a land tour, you are on and off a bus almost every day, and some days will require a long time on the bus to arrive at the next destination. For those who suffer from motion sickness, an extended period on a bus may be a problem. Typically the bus leaves around 6 a.m. to arrive at the next place by mid-day, so you will also have to get up early. Still, a land tour allows you to see inner towns and cities and landscapes that you wouldn’t see on a cruise. Cruises tend to be all inclusive, but also tend to be more expensive. Cruises provide specialized restaurants, have entertainment, and allow for a high standard of living which many people are accustomed to.

Popular Destinations

pilgramige3 One of the most popular destinations for pilgrimages is the Holy Land. It is a term used by Muslims, Christians, and Jews to define the area roughly located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. It is significant because is where Jerusalem is located, the historical region of Jesus’s ministry and the holiest city to Judaism. Pilgrims visit the Holy Land to see physical manifestations of their faith, connect personally to the Holy Land, and confirm their beliefs. For Muslims, Mecca is perhaps the most popular destination. It is an obligation of every able-bodied Muslim to journey to the Hajj in Mecca at least once in their lifetime.

The Road Less Travelled

The Holy Land and Mecca receive most of the publicity for pilgrimage travels, but there are numerous places around the world that attract pilgrims every year. One of those places is Japan’s Kumano Kodo. Possibly one of the most overlooked treks on the planet, the hike includes rich cultural insight into Japan, delicious local food, and hot springs retreats. pilgramage 3 The pilgrimage has been in operation for over 1,000 years, but is relatively unknown to most international travellers, who consider Osaka or Kyoto a far enough journey. It is one of only two world pilgrimages registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Costs and Savings

It is difficult to say with certainty how much a pilgrimage will cost, because the needs and expectations of each traveller varies significantly. For Muslims living in North America who wish to journey to Mecca, the average cost is around $4, 000. Anyone who wishes to go on that pilgrimage must travel with a group that is registered with the Saudi Ministry of Hajj. Dar El Salam, one of the groups that organize these pilgrimages, has all sorts of packages, some of which include transportation, food, hotels, and airfare. One of the most popular packages costs $15 000.

Missionary Travel

Missionary Travel

Missionary travel is one of the oldest forms of “tourism”. Missionaries visit certain countries or areas for an extended period of time to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as economic development, health care, social justice, literacy, and education. The word mission is actually derived from the Latin missionem, meaning the act of sending. The term is most commonly used for Christian missions, but can be used for any ideology, creed or religion.

Pros and Cons

There are two contrasting views when it comes to missionary work. While some people maintain that the work missionaries are doing significantly improves the standard of living in developing countries and poor regions, others believe the locals are being manipulated for the sake of religious purposes.

Some even believe that missionaries have a perceived lack of respect for other cultures. Still, the education and health care provided by missionaries is certainly beneficial to the locals who, in most cases, are living in third world countries in extreme poverty. For missionaries themselves, there are positives and negatives. While you don’t make much money, and may not have control over where you go or for how long, you do get to travel and experience new cultures, while at the same time making a positive impact on the lives of those who may be less fortunate than you.

Popular Destinations

missionary2 Two of the most well known destinations for missionaries are Brazil and Russia. Brazil receives missionaries from all over the world, including the United States, Spain, and Africa. The churches in Brazil do not only provide religious services, but also humanitarian services such as educational opportunities, medical care, and clean water. It is the second most-visited country in the world by missionaries. Still recovering from the collapse of the Soviet Union and suffering from political turmoil, Russia is another popular destination for Christian missionaries. Over 20 000 missionaries visited Russia in 2010 to help citizens with medical care and education, and to spread the Christian Gospel.

The Road Less Travelled

It may be surprising to learn the United States is actually the most popular destination for missionary travellers. The country is generally a Christian nation and is one of the top countries that send missionaries, missionary1 but it is a popular destination for missionaries of other religions to travel to and help promote their religious beliefs. France is another surprising destination, which was 6th overall. France has a Christian presence that goes back hundreds of years, but recently less than 1% of the French population professes to be Christian. Thus, it has become a popular destination for Christian missionaries.

Costs and Savings

Serving a foreign mission abroad is typically much more expensive than serving a mission in your own country, but it does offer a unique experience in that you are able to travel at the same time you are doing your missionary work. Airline travel fees will be one of the biggest expenses, and it is likely you will need to bring extra baggage because missionaries tend to relocate for extended periods of time. Luckily, since most of the missionary work is done in third world countries, the cost of living may be significantly lower than the one in a first world country. It is important to ensure your trip is well organized, and researching different missionary organizations is key to help saving money and utilizing all resources effectively.

Wildlife Tourism

Wildlife Tourism

For animal lovers, wildlife tourism is a popular travel trend. A multi-million dollar industry, wildlife tourism puts the encounter between the wildlife and the visitor at the core of its experience. At its simplest sense, wildlife tourism involves watching wild animals in their natural habitat. It can be a form of ecotourism, however, where travellers can help with conservation and preservation of natural habitats and endangered species.

Pros and Cons

Like all tourism, wildlife tourism has negative effects. It can cause significant disturbances to animals in their natural habitats. A popular trend recently is to travel to developing countries, which does help increase revenue and generate money flow, but also has caused a boom in hotel and resort construction, damaging forests and other habitats which are the homes for these animals.

Wildlife tourism can also disrupt nesting and feeding sites. Animals may be driven off their reserves or forced to find new areas to hunt because of an increase in human traffic, negatively affecting not only the animal but the entire ecosystem in the area. Attracting a large number of tourists to a wildlife area, however, may make it more difficult for poachers of exotic animals because of the increased observation. Many owners of wildlife attractions also work to restore and preserve native habitats.

Popular Destinations

wildlife2 Africa is one of the most popular destinations for wildlife tourism. Home to the most exotic animals in the world, people travel from all over the globe to go on safari in Africa. One of the most popular places in Africa is Kenya, particularly the Rhino Watch Safari. The lodge offers a beautiful view of Mt Kenya and is surrounded by three different wildlife reserves, all offering unique safari experiences and game drives. For those wishing to see more aquatic animals, Patagonia in Argentina is a very popular destination. The Patagonia Project offers wildlife expeditions and nature tours that allow travellers to see penguins, sea lions, dolphins and whales up close.

The Road Less Travelled

While Africa gets most of the publicity for offering the best wildlife and safari experiences, some people may be turned off because of the large crowds. While Africa is so large and offers plenty of exclusive destinations, there are other places in the world that also offer travellers a chance to see wildlife up close. wildlife3 National parks and wildlife reserves in Quebec, Canada, are home to over 650 different species, the majority of which can be seen in the wilderness. There are also whale watching tours available on the St. Lawrence Estuary, which also allows travellers to see numerous land mammals and migratory birds. Other underrated wildlife tourist destinations include viewing the Beluga Whales in the Arctic, the humpback whales in the Dominican Republic, and the crab migration at Christmas Island.

Costs and Savings

Sometimes if you want the best you have to pay, and going on safari on Africa is by no means cheap. Still, it may be the best wildlife tourist destination available, and is likely worth every cent. There are numerous deals online that may help save the cost on flights or lodging, as well as certain safari tour packages that may give discounts if a certain number of people are travelling or on certain dates. For those looking to save money, however, travelling to one of the unheralded destinations, like Quebec, is much cheaper and still offers a great wildlife viewing experience.

Conservation Tourism

Conservation Tourism

Tourism and nature conservation have developed alongside each other since the early nineteenth century. As such, the concept of conservation tourism has grown increasingly more popular among travellers. Conservation tourism is a very small sub-sector of ecotourism. The key issue in conservation tourism is ensuring the net outcome of tourism is positive after subtracting the negative impacts that tourism causes.

Pros and Cons

Obviously the biggest positive affect of conservation tourism is helping to minimize the negative impacts of tourism. Like other forms of tourism, conservation tourism generates money for locals, especially in less wealthy nations and regions (like Africa). Conservation tourism also contributes significantly to environmental protection, sustainable use of natural resources, and restoration of biological diversity.

If nothing else, it raises awareness among the general public that conserving popular tourist destinations is important. Like all forms of tourism, however, there are negative affects. Local cultures can be exposed in a negative way, and large crowds of tourists may cause the negative impact of tourism to outweigh the conservation efforts, thus defeating the original purpose. Regulatory measures can be used to help offset negative impacts, however, such as placing a limit on the number of visitors and tourist activities allowed within a protected area. This can help maintain the vitality and integrity of the destination.

Popular Destinations

conservation2 Perhaps the most popular destination for conservation tourism is Africa. Well-known for its diverse wildlife, most people have only seen its open fields and exotic animals on the discovery channel. The creation of conservation tourism has caused people from all over to see Earth’s most stunning wildlife while at the same time helping protect endangered species and ecosystems. The money earned by various parks and nature reserves allows for safeguards (such as sniffer dogs and park rangers) to be installed to help maintain the integrity of the area. Numerous organizations offer packages that are designed allow tourists to see the animals up close but also help protect these endangered species.

The Road Less Travelled

While Africa may be the most popular destination, there are many other destinations which are perfect for people wishing to get involved in conservation tourism. One of these places is British Columbia, Canada. wildlife2 One of the most beautiful places in the world, British Columbia is full of ancient coastal rainforests, majestic mountains, and plenty of wildlife. British Columbia has a very high orca whale population, and one of the most popular conservation tourism packages is to help preserve their environment and habitat. Other less-known destinations include Mexico, with its stunning wildlife, Nicaragua, with its excellent wildlife conservation programs, and Costa Rica.

Cost and Savings

Like all tourism, the total cost depends on what kind of trip you wish to take. Many travel agencies and companies offer numerous packages to suit your needs. See The Wild, for example, has volunteer packages, volunteer and adventure packages, and culture and nature packages. The cost of these packages tends to run near $2000, depending on where you decide to visit. Savings can be found, however, particularly in travel books or websites such as Groupon, which can help lower the cost of travel significantly.

Disappearing Ecosystems

Disappearing Ecosystems

Climate change is rapidly changing the landscape of our planet. Ocean acidification, melting glaciers, desertification and rising sea levels are all affecting Earth’s ecosystems. Soon some of Earth’s most magical places may disappear, and as such one of the more popular travel trends is to visit these disappearing ecosystems. Some ecotourists travel with the intent of helping preserve ecosystems at risk, while others just wish to see these destinations before they are gone forever.

Pros and Cons

Obviously one of the biggest advantages to touring disappearing ecosystems is the fact that you get to see these places before they disappear. In a number of years they may be gone forever, so visiting them while you have a chance is certainly a must-do for any avid traveller.

Another benefit of travelling to disappearing ecosystems is the number of reputable ecotourism organizations that help maintain and preserve these destinations. By joining one of these organizations, you are able to visit these ecosystems while at the same time assist in preserving them. Of course, like all ecotourism, there are negatives to go with the positives. Many tourists visiting certain destinations may actually decrease the already minimal time the ecosystem has left on Earth. Some of these destinations are in remote places of the globe, and thus the living standards may be lower than what some travellers may be accustomed to. The security in these places may also be lacking.

Popular Destinations

disappearing ecosystems3 One of the most popular disappearing ecosystems is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. An influx of pollution along with rising ocean temperatures have caused experts to predict the reef may be destroyed within the next century. It is one of Australia’s greatest attractions and a very popular destination for travellers. While not necessarily an ecosystem, Venice, Italy is another disappearing destination. The city has been sinking for ages, but severe floods and rising water levels may leave Venice completely underwater within 50 years. For those skiing fans, the Alps are a popular tourist destination, but it may not be for much longer. The Alps are susceptible to climate change because of its low altitude, and over 3% of Alpine glacier ice melts each year. As such, experts predict that the glaciers may melt entirely by 2050.

Road Less Travelled

Because the Earth is experiencing significant climate change, there are numerous destinations that may no longer exist within the next century. One of those is Glacier National Park in Montana. Once home to over 150 glaciers, there are less than 20 remaining. This number may be zero within the next 15 years. disappearing eco system1 A little further north, the Magdalen Islands in Quebec, Canada are another disappearing ecosystem. A lovely vacation spot in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with sandstone cliffs and sandy beaches, the island’s cost currently erodes up to 40 inches a year, and the wall of sea ice blunting the worst weather is rapidly melting. Experts believe the ice will melt completely within the next century, which will leave the islands vulnerable to the destructive storms that pelt the area.

Costs and Savings

The cost of travelling to disappearing ecosystems varies depending on where you wish to go, how long you will be going for, and the standard of living you are accustomed to. Many locations will require a plane ride to get there, followed by another form of transportation. Many of these places may have an extra cost, such as an admission fee. There are numerous savings options available, however, through travel books or online deals, which can help save significantly on travel costs, accommodation costs, and activity costs.

Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable tourism is one of the emerging tourism trends in the 21st century. The idea of sustainable tourism, or ecotourism, is visiting a place as a tourist and attempting to only make a positive impact on that location’s economy, society, and environment. Every industry has impacts, especially tourism, and thus will never be completely sustainable. It is possible to become more sustainable travellers, however. Sustainable tourism is all about adaptation.

Pros and Cons

One of the biggest cons about sustainable tourism is air travel. Aviation accounts for over half of transportation CO2 emissions. To be truly eco-friendly, it may mean eliminating air travel from your trip entirely.

Obviously this can make it difficult to visit certain places. Some airlines now have the option for passengers to purchase a carbon offset ticket, but typically a fee is charged. Thus, flying becomes more expensive. Popular destinations for ecotourism may become over-visited, which could damage the natural environment. Local indigenous people can also become “tourist attractions”, with their culture and heritage exposed and potentially ridiculed. There are definitely some advantages to sustainable tourism, however. It does provide the opportunity for local inhabitants to generate revenue from tourists in areas where there may be poverty. It also allows tourists to experience certain environments and locations in their natural state without any urbanization or repercussions from industrialism.

Popular Destinations

sustainable4 One of the most popular destinations for eco-tourists is Costa Rica. Its rushing river rapids, thick rain forests, black sand beaches and misty cloud forests offer plenty of activities and experiences for nature enthusiasts and adventure travellers. Costa Rica also has a thriving wildlife, with animals such as sea turtles, jaguars, crocodiles, sloths and monkeys. Kenya is another popular destination, particularly for tourists wishing to experience exotic animals up close. Kenya’s wild savannas are full of lions and elephants, but most travellers do not realize the significant number of rain forests, lakes, and mountains Kenya also has to offer. Kenya’s natural diversity is protected in over 50 national reserves and parks.

Road Less Travelled

For those sustainable tourists who wish to visit less known destinations, the Norwegian fjords are the first place to start. Norway’s strict environmental regulations (such as regulating sealing, whaling, and fishing) and the remote location of the fjords have helped preserve their beauty and well-being. sustainable3 Travellers can bike or hike over the rugged terrain or take a beautiful boat cruise through the towering fjords. Another destination is Kerala, India. Kerala was once threatened by deforestation, but these forests are now protected and environmentally friendly travel in the area is encouraged by tourist officials. Often referred to as “God’s Own Country”, Kerala is one of India’s most unspoiled corners, home to many different plant and animal species.

Costs and Savings

The cost of sustainable travelling and tourism depends on what kind of trip you plan on taking. For those tourists who wish to avoid hotels and luxury, it can be a far cheaper form of travel. For those travellers who are accustomed to staying in hotels, however, but wish to become more eco-friendly travellers, it may be more expensive, largely because eco-friendly hotels tend to be more expensive. According to Josh Cohen, the owner of Wild Plant Adventures (a company which specializes in ecotourism), a sustainable tourism trip should run between $225 and $300 a day, including all activities, lodging, and meals.